The company said that while it had targeted the fourth quarter of 2012 to announce the results of its PEA, the document’s “relative complexity” and Great Western’s decision to undertake a revised resource estimate, extended the timeframe for the release.
Great Western also said that its search committee is in the final stages of the selection process for a new CEO and anticipates an announcement early in 2013.
"We realize the past months have been a trying time for investors,” said interim president and CEO Robert Quinn.
“Company management is aware of the impact of slippages from previously announced time targets.
“We remain committed to executing our plan that will create one of the most highly integrated rare earth companies outside of China.”
Great Western is a rare earth processor, whose specialty alloys are used in the magnet, battery, defence and aerospace industries.
Produced at the company’s subsidiaries Less Common Metals (LCM) in Birkenhead, U.K. and Great Western Technologies (GWT) in Troy, Michigan, these alloys contain aluminum, nickel, cobalt and rare earth elements (REE).
As part of its vertical integration strategy, Great Western also holds 100 per cent of Rare Earth Extraction Co. Limited, which owns a 74-per-cent equity stake in the Steenkampskraal mine in South Africa.
The former producing Steenkampskraal mine is under development through refurbishment, as the company builds a rare earth mixed chloride plant and a rare earth solvent extraction separation plant near the mine.
In an update of operations, the company said that during the development of the basic assessment report on the land where it plans to construct its Vredendal separation plant, it decided to increase the amount of land designated for the project.
As a result of the site expansion, a road transport study was needed. Great Western said it anticipates the expanded report will be submitted to the South African Department of Environmental Affairs and Development Planning by mid-February 2013.
In addition, a Land Use Planning Ordinance application is underway and is expected to be completed by the end of the first quarter of 2013.
At its Steenkampskraal mixed chloride production plant, the company expects on-site construction work to begin in the first quarter of 2013.
Looking ahead to early 2013, Great Western said it expects to complete “a number of significant milestone events”, including the release of the PEA – which will incorporate a new resource estimate and timelines for the next steps in the Steenkampskraal construction process.
Significantly, the company said the PEA will enable it to publicly discuss financial projections.
Additionally, Great Western anticipates production to begin at LCM using the new strip cast furnace and expects to announce the arrival of a second strip cast furnace.
In early 2013, the company said it also plans to report on the chloride production plant at Steenkampskraal, the separation plant at Vredendal as well as update on the spinoff of its non-South African exploration properties.
Additional assay results from the ongoing exploration program at its Steenkampskraal mine are also expected in the early stages of 2013.
Great Western Minerals Group is focused on becoming an integrated rare earth producer. In addition to Steenkampskraal, the company also holds interests in four rare earth exploration and development properties in North America.